Review: Macbeth at Celebration Arts

Showtimes: Thu 8pm, Fri 8pm, Sat 8pm, Sun 2pm; Through 11/3; $10-$20; Celebration Arts, 2727 B St.; (916) 455-2787;
Rated 4.0

Director Khimberly Marshall gives audiences a lot to chew on in Celebration Arts’ Macbeth. This production honors the Celebration Arts community with a project of race-conscious, cross-cultural casting in which the entire world of the play is transposed to a futuristic Africa. Marshall makes clear, definite interventions in the script, and the brisk cut makes the play a short 90 minutes.

After multiple interviews with Marshall, it’s clear that this production holds special significance as Celebration Arts’ first-ever Shakespeare production, and also as one of the first all-black Shakespeare plays in Sacramento history. In scholar Ayanna Thompson’s book on Shakespeare and race, she notes a common joke among African-American actors that “the only way we will get to do Shakespeare is as one of the three witches in Macbeth.” Here, not only is Marshall giving us a play full of actors of color, but she reclaims the witches by drawing on African folklore for the design and direction of these three “Ancestors.”

A standout among them, Danyelle Finch, plays a puckish, meddling Ancestor, who personifies the supernatural influence of fate and becomes a driving force of the play as she coos, charms and teases ill-fated characters toward the inevitable. Maurice Ngakane also gives a strong performance as Macbeth, as does Cline Moore as Banquo.

Ultimately, this play is an ambitious, creative endeavor for Celebration Arts and an important addition to the landscape of Sacramento theatre.